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vessel used in the Christian liturgy for the burning of aromatic incense strewn on lighted coals. Censers of terra-cotta or metal were widely used in Egypt, in the ancient Middle Eastern civilizations, including the Jewish, and in the classical world. Because they were destined chiefly for religious worship, above all in funeral rites, they were often the object of artistic effort. The shapes varied. Both an open bowl with a handle or with chains for carrying and a closed receptacle with openings for smoke to escape were known.